Pakistani-American businessman Zia Chishti has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by a former employee, Tatiana Spottiswoode, who gave a shocking testimony about her allegations to members of the US congress during a hearing. She also issued photos of injuries Chishti had allegedly caused her.
Following the allegations, former British prime minister David Cameron who was serving as an advisor to the US software firm Afiniti — that Chishti owns — stepped down from his position. He announced that he would immediately quit the firm after allegations against its founder came to light.
Zia Chishti is the founder and CEO of Afiniti. 28-year-old Tatiana Spottiswoode, who worked at his firm, said that Chishti beat her up during a sexual encounter at a work trip to Brazil in 2017, injuring her. She further claimed that Chishti said he should have had sex with her when she was 13-year-old. According to Spottiswoode’s testimony, she met Chishti when she was only 12 or 13 and then saw him again a few years later, when she was studying at Columbia Law School.
She told the members of the Congress that when she was in her senior year of college, Zia Chishti invited her on a ski trip. She was 21 at the time, while Chishti was 43. Spottiswoode added that she first refused to go with him, but then agreed when he said he wanted her to meet his nephew who also studied philosophy. “I later learned that the nephew, who never showed up, didn’t exist,” she said. She further said that Chishti told her during the trip that he had ‘feelings’ for her and then forced her into a sexual relationship.
Spottiswoode described a series of events in which Chishti displayed inappropriate behaviour towards her, saying that it caused her mental stress. On one occasion, he allegedly put his hands in Spittiswoode’s pants. She also accused him of calling her a ‘bitch’ in front of coworkers when she refused to hold his hand.
Who is Zia Chishti?
50-year-old Zia Chishti is an American investor of Pakistani origin. In 2018, he received Sitara-e-Imtiaz from the government of Pakistan which then president Mamnoon Hussain had conferred on him.
In 2019, Zia Chishti visited Pakistan with a delegation of prominent individuals including former prime ministers of Italy and Spain, apparently on the invitation of then minister for overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari. The delegation had also held a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The former minister had also posted a tweet with a photo of the delegation, welcoming the guests to Pakistan.
Chishti also met Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Health Minister Taumur Khan Jhagra during his recent visit to Pakistan. The photos of his interaction with Pakistani officials are available on social media.
Reacting to the allegations levelled against him, social media users wondered if Pakistani politicians who honoured him will now condemn his alleged actions. Many termed it shocking that the man accused of sexual assault holds a Sitara-e-Imtiaz.
Unbelievably horrifying. Zia Chishti holds a Sitara-e-Imtiaz — not that it means much anymore. https://t.co/DwH9pzC25t